Pet Scoop: Deaf Shelter Dog Learns Sign Language, Seal Becomes Celebrity in Sydney

Oct. 16, 2014: We've scoured the Web to find the best and most compelling animal stories, videos and photos. And it's all right here.

A shelter worker in Colorado taught a deaf dog named Connor American Sign Language.
A shelter worker in Colorado taught a deaf dog named Connor American Sign Language.

Deaf Dog Needs Forever Home

When 1-year-old Connor arrived at the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter in Colorado, the staff noticed he was having a tough time adjusting. He didn’t seem to be listening to commands or responding to anyone. A staff member named Tori was the one to realize that Connor was deaf — and she decided to help him by teaching him American Sign Language. "The difference is nothing but miraculous," said Nancy Adams, who also works at the shelter. Connor also has a condition called Cerebellar hypoplasia, which means part of his brain never fully developed, and he’ll always act like a “perpetual puppy.” The shelter is trying to find a special home for this special dog. — Watch it at Colorado’s 9News

Study: Elephants Detect Rain 150 Miles Away

New research suggests elephants can sense a rain storm that’s up to 150 miles away, and move toward it. The researchers analyzed the movements of 14 elephants in Africa's Namibia region over the course of 7 years, matching weather data with GPS data that showed herd movements. They found elephants seemed to be able to sense where a storm was happening. Namibia is dry most of the year and the scientists say that’s why the animals have learned to take advantage of the rainy season from January to March. "We don’t know if they can actually hear the thunder or if they are detecting other low-frequency sounds generated by the storms that humans can’t hear. But there is no doubt they know what direction the rain is," said Oliver Frauenfeld, assistant professor in the geography department at Texas A&M University. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE. — Read it at

Birds May Use Wing Tucks During Turbulence

Scientists in the U.K. fitted a captive Eurasian steppe eagle with a lightweight data recorder to determine how its behavior of briefly folding its wings while soaring influenced its aerodynamics. During 45 flights in southern Wales, the bird tucked its wings 2,594 times. The data from the recorder showed the bird did the wing tucks in response to atmospheric turbulence, keeping it from crashing when it hit pockets of bumpy air. “A bird just tucks its wings and keeps a pretty smooth flight,” said study senior author Graham Taylor, a biologist at Oxford University. The findings were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. — Read it at National Geographic

A young fur seal enjoys sunning himself on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.
A young fur seal enjoys sunning himself on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

Seal Delights Sydney Tourists

A young New Zealand fur seal is making quite a splash in Sydney, Australia. He and two other seals have been swimming around Sydney Harbour for the last two weeks. But it’s this guy’s favorite pastime that’s made him a city celebrity: hanging out on the steps of the iconic Sydney Opera House. “We know he spends the night hunting for food and he emerges at the steps at about 3 a.m. to sleep and rest,” said a spokeswoman for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. “He returns to those steps because it’s routine now… and we don’t know when he’ll move on. But when the water starts heating up, he and the other seals will leave the Harbour.” For now, though, the seal is attracting the attention of everyone from lawmakers to radio hosts and tourists who like to snap selfies with the seal in the background. — Read it at Buzzfeed

Polar Bear Breaks Into Alaska Home

An 81-year-old woman was in her Kaktovik, Alaska, home when a polar bear decided to join her. Betty Brower crawled to a radio and quietly called the local bear patrol for the village of 300 people. The bear was in her home’s arctic entryway, which is a narrow covered porch that serves as a barrier to the cold. Bear patrol member Ruby Kaleak arrived on the scene and said she saw one of the biggest polar bears she’s ever seen inside a doorway and feasting on a drum of seal oil. "I was shocked. It was humongous," Kaleak said. The bear fled after Kaleak arrived, and no one was injured. — Read it from the AP via People Pets


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